Air Quality and Health in the Mediterranean

A special issue of Atmosphere (ISSN 2073-4433). This special issue belongs to the section "Air Quality and Human Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (5 February 2021) | Viewed by 31431

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (ISAC), National Research Council (CNR), Via Fosso del Cavaliere 100, 00133 Rome, Italy
Interests: air quality; atmospheric aerosol; health effects; characterization of ultrafine particles; combustion generated aerosol and urban areas; black carbon and carbonaceous aerosol, and relevant toxicology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
1. Department of Physics, School of Science, University of Jordan, Amman 11942, Jordan
2. Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR / Physics), University of Helsinki, PL 64, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland
Interests: atmospheric and environmental sciences; air pollution; urban and indoor air quality; dynamics and physical characterization of aerosol particles; emissions and fate of atmospheric aerosols, dry deposition; exposure; modeling, analytical, and numerical methods
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Biology, Sapienza University of Rome, P. le Aldo Moro, 5, 00185 Rome, Italy
Interests: particulate matter; chemical composition; air pollutant distribution; spatial distribution; seasonal variation; indoor/outdoor concentration; chemical fractionation; source tracer; source apportionment; receptor modeling; PMF; oxidative potential; oxidative stress; biomonitoring; element; environmental exposure
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The objective of this Special Issue is to provide an interdisciplinary forum for discussions of our current state of knowledge about the interplay between air quality, human health, and the associated risks in the Mediterranean. This is one of the most controversial topics in current research. The Mediterranean region is affected by frequent dust episodes (originating from the Sahara region and crossing from south to north) and anthropogenic pollution (originating from Southern Europe and crossing from north to south). Therefore, air pollution in the Mediterranean region has complex physical-chemical characteristics for aerosols.

Air pollution is one of the leading environmental risk factors for human health globally, especially with regard to ambient fine particular matter, ozone, and some non-criteria pollutants that are considered to have the highest toxicity, such as metals, organics, black carbon, allergens, and their partitioning in both fine and ultrafine aerosol particles. The assessment of the associated risk, especially regarding the impact to the lungs, the circulatory system, and the brain, is still far from being understood. Despite extraordinary advances, a growing number of challenges remain. An emerging consensus suggests that the time has come for science to establish novel interdisciplinary research partnerships based on cross-sectoral collaborations between different areas of expertise, such as air quality, aerosol science and technology, emission research, meteorology, climatology, toxicology, epidemiology, governance, and risk management. Significant scientific evidence must be obtained to guide the development of new recommendations, policies, and legislation. Rethinking science is necessary to meet today’s priorities.

Dr. Francesca Costabile
Prof. Tareq Hussein
Dr. Lorenzo Massimi
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • aerosol
  • ultrafine particles
  • toxicity
  • epidemiology
  • black carbon
  • sand and dust storm (SDS)

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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19 pages, 7229 KiB  
Article
The Historical Trend of Air Pollution and Its Impact on Human Health in Campania Region (Italy)
by Domenico Toscano and Fabio Murena
Atmosphere 2021, 12(5), 553; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12050553 - 25 Apr 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3256
Abstract
The Campania region covers an area of about 13,590 km2 with 5.8 million residents. The area suffers from several environmental issues due to urbanization, the presence of industries, wastewater treatment, and solid waste management concerns. Air pollution is one of the most [...] Read more.
The Campania region covers an area of about 13,590 km2 with 5.8 million residents. The area suffers from several environmental issues due to urbanization, the presence of industries, wastewater treatment, and solid waste management concerns. Air pollution is one of the most relevant environmental troubles in the Campania region, frequently exceeding the limit values established by European directives. In this paper, airborne pollutant concentration data measured by the regional air quality network from 2003 to 2019 are collected to individuate the historical trends of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), coarse and fine particulate matter with aerodynamic diameters smaller than 10 μm (PM10) and 2.5 μm (PM2.5), and ozone (O3) through the analysis of the number of exceedances of limit values per year and the annual average concentration. Information on spatial variability and the effect of the receptor category is obtained by lumping together data belonging to the same province or category. To obtain information on the general air quality rather than on single pollutants, the European Air Quality Index (EU-AQI) is also evaluated. A special focus is dedicated to the effect of deep street canyons on air quality, since they are very common in the urban areas in Campania. Finally, the impact of air pollution from 2003 to 2019 on human health is also analyzed using the software AIRQ+. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Quality and Health in the Mediterranean)
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18 pages, 8446 KiB  
Article
Influence of Meteorological Conditions and Aerosol Properties on the COVID-19 Contamination of the Population in Coastal and Continental Areas in France: Study of Offshore and Onshore Winds
by Jacques Piazzola, William Bruch, Christelle Desnues, Philippe Parent, Christophe Yohia and Elisa Canepa
Atmosphere 2021, 12(4), 523; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12040523 - 20 Apr 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3049
Abstract
Human behaviors probably represent the most important causes of the SARS-Cov-2 virus propagation. However, the role of virus transport by aerosols—and therefore the influence of atmospheric conditions (temperature, humidity, type and concentration of aerosols)—on the spread of the epidemic remains an open and [...] Read more.
Human behaviors probably represent the most important causes of the SARS-Cov-2 virus propagation. However, the role of virus transport by aerosols—and therefore the influence of atmospheric conditions (temperature, humidity, type and concentration of aerosols)—on the spread of the epidemic remains an open and still debated question. This work aims to study whether or not the meteorological conditions related to the different aerosol properties in continental and coastal urbanized areas might influence the atmospheric transport of the SARS-Cov-2 virus. Our analysis focuses on the lockdown period to reduce the differences in the social behavior and highlight those of the weather conditions. As an example, we investigated the contamination cases during March 2020 in two specific French areas located in both continental and coastal areas with regard to the meteorological conditions and the corresponding aerosol properties, the optical depth (AOD) and the Angstrom exponent provided by the AERONET network. The results show that the analysis of aerosol ground-based data can be of interest to assess a virus survey. We found that moderate to strong onshore winds occurring in coastal regions and inducing humid environment and large sea-spray production episodes coincides with smaller COVID-19 contamination rates. We assume that the coagulation of SARS-Cov-2 viral particles with hygroscopic salty sea-spray aerosols might tend to inhibit its viral infectivity via possible reaction with NaCl, especially in high relative humidity environments typical of maritime sites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Quality and Health in the Mediterranean)
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28 pages, 9169 KiB  
Article
The Atmospheric Aerosol over Western Greece-Six Years of Aerosol Observations at the Navarino Environmental Observatory
by Hans-Christen Hansson, Peter Tunved, Radovan Krejci, Eyal Freud, Nikos Kalivitis, Tabea Hennig, Giorgos Maneas and Evangelos Gerasopoulos
Atmosphere 2021, 12(4), 445; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12040445 - 31 Mar 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2387
Abstract
The Eastern Mediterranean is a highly populated area with air quality problems. It is also where climate change is already noticed by higher temperatures and s changing precipitation pattern. The anthropogenic aerosol affects health and changing concentrations and properties of the atmospheric aerosol [...] Read more.
The Eastern Mediterranean is a highly populated area with air quality problems. It is also where climate change is already noticed by higher temperatures and s changing precipitation pattern. The anthropogenic aerosol affects health and changing concentrations and properties of the atmospheric aerosol affect radiation balance and clouds. Continuous long-term observations are essential in assessing the influence of anthropogenic aerosols on climate and health. We present six years of observations from Navarino Environmental Observatory (NEO), a new station located at the south west tip of Peloponnese, Greece. The two sites at NEO, were evaluated to show the influence of the local meteorology and to assess the general background aerosol possible. It was found that the background aerosol was originated from aged European aerosols and was strongly influenced by biomass burning, fossil fuel combustion, and industry. When subsiding into the boundary layer, local sources contributed in the air masses moving south. Mesoscale meteorology determined the diurnal variation of aerosol properties such as mass and number by means of typical sea breeze circulation, giving rise to pronounced morning and evening peaks in pollutant levels. While synoptic scale meteorology, mainly large-scale air mass transport and precipitation, strongly influenced the seasonality of the aerosol properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Quality and Health in the Mediterranean)
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19 pages, 10137 KiB  
Article
Representativeness of Carbon Dioxide Fluxes Measured by Eddy Covariance over a Mediterranean Urban District with Equipment Setup Restrictions
by Gianfranco Rana, Nicola Martinelli, Daniela Famulari, Francesco Pezzati, Cristina Muschitiello and Rossana Monica Ferrara
Atmosphere 2021, 12(2), 197; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12020197 - 1 Feb 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2346
Abstract
The CO2 fluxes measured by the eddy covariance technique (EC) are presented for a district of the urban area of Bari (Italy). The applicability of the EC method was satisfied even though the measurements were taken at a limited height. The CO [...] Read more.
The CO2 fluxes measured by the eddy covariance technique (EC) are presented for a district of the urban area of Bari (Italy). The applicability of the EC method was satisfied even though the measurements were taken at a limited height. The CO2 fluxes are representative of an area with public offices and schools, the university campus, green areas, and busy roads with intensive traffic during school and office times. The measurements were carried out in March–June, covering late winter, characterized by huge vehicle traffic and domestic heating, until late spring, characterized by reduced activities for schools and the university. The source area was determined as a function of atmospheric stability, for data with the ratio between measurement-height/buildings-height in the range of 1.3–1.5. The measured CO2 fluxes were compared to gas consumption values. The results show that the district is a strong source of CO2 during the winter. Emissions were drastically reduced (−82%) after the heating was switched off, and a further decrease in CO2 emissions (−50%) occurred with the reduction of school activities, partly due to the mitigating effect of green areas with large trees in the area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Quality and Health in the Mediterranean)
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18 pages, 5789 KiB  
Article
Estimation of Particulate Matter Contributions from Desert Outbreaks in Mediterranean Countries (2015–2018) Using the Time Series Clustering Method
by Álvaro Gómez-Losada and José C. M. Pires
Atmosphere 2021, 12(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12010005 - 23 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2546
Abstract
North African dust intrusions can contribute to exceedances of the European PM10 and PM2.5 limit values and World Health Organisation standards, diminishing air quality, and increased mortality and morbidity at higher concentrations. In this study, the contribution of North African dust [...] Read more.
North African dust intrusions can contribute to exceedances of the European PM10 and PM2.5 limit values and World Health Organisation standards, diminishing air quality, and increased mortality and morbidity at higher concentrations. In this study, the contribution of North African dust in Mediterranean countries was estimated using the time series clustering method. This method combines the non-parametric approach of Hidden Markov Models for studying time series, and the definition of different air pollution profiles (regimes of concentration). Using this approach, PM10 and PM2.5 time series obtained at background monitoring stations from seven countries were analysed from 2015 to 2018. The average characteristic contributions to PM10 were estimated as 11.6 ± 10.3 µg·m−3 (Bosnia and Herzegovina), 8.8 ± 7.5 µg·m−3 (Spain), 7.0 ± 6.2 µg·m−3 (France), 8.1 ± 5.9 µg·m−3 (Croatia), 7.5 ± 5.5 µg·m−3 (Italy), 8.1 ± 7.0 µg·m−3 (Portugal), and 17.0 ± 9.8 µg·m−3 (Turkey). For PM2.5, estimated contributions were 4.1 ± 3.5 µg·m−3 (Spain), 6.0 ± 4.8 µg·m−3 (France), 9.1 ± 6.4 µg·m−3 (Croatia), 5.2 ± 3.8 µg·m−3 (Italy), 6.0 ± 4.4 µg·m−3 (Portugal), and 9.0 ± 5.6 µg·m−3 (Turkey). The observed PM2.5/PM10 ratios were between 0.36 and 0.69, and their seasonal variation was characterised, presenting higher values in colder months. Principal component analysis enabled the association of background sites based on their estimated PM10 and PM2.5 pollution profiles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Quality and Health in the Mediterranean)
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13 pages, 1801 KiB  
Article
Chemometric Study of the Correlation between Human Exposure to Benzene and PAHs and Urinary Excretion of Oxidative Stress Biomarkers
by Flavia Buonaurio, Enrico Paci, Daniela Pigini, Federico Marini, Lisa Bauleo, Carla Ancona and Giovanna Tranfo
Atmosphere 2020, 11(12), 1341; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11121341 - 11 Dec 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2026
Abstract
Urban air contains benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which have carcinogenic properties. The objective of this paper is to study the correlation of exposure biomarkers with biomarkers of nucleic acid oxidation also considering smoking. In 322 subjects, seven urinary dose biomarkers were [...] Read more.
Urban air contains benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which have carcinogenic properties. The objective of this paper is to study the correlation of exposure biomarkers with biomarkers of nucleic acid oxidation also considering smoking. In 322 subjects, seven urinary dose biomarkers were analyzed for benzene, pyrene, nitropyrene, benzo[a]pyrene, and naphthalene exposure, and four effect biomarkers for nucleic acid and protein oxidative stress. Chemometrics was applied in order to investigate the existence of a synergistic effect for the exposure to the mixture and the contribution of active smoking. There is a significant difference between nicotine, benzene and PAH exposure biomarker concentrations of smokers and non-smokers, but the difference is not statistically significant for oxidative stress biomarkers. The PAH biomarkers are those which best correlate with all the oxidative stress biomarkers. Results suggest that 8-Oxo-7,8-dihydroguanine and protein nitro-oxidation 3-nitrotyrosine are the most sensitive biomarkers for the exposure to the urban pollutant mixtures and that a synergic effect of the mixtures exists. All the oxidative stress biomarkers studied drive the increase in the oxidative stress biomarkers in the subjects having higher exposures. Chemometrics proved to be a powerful method for the interpretation of human biomonitoring data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Quality and Health in the Mediterranean)
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17 pages, 9084 KiB  
Article
Association between the Concentration and the Elemental Composition of Outdoor PM2.5 and Respiratory Diseases in Schoolchildren: A Multicenter Study in the Mediterranean Area
by Christopher Zammit, David Bilocca, Silvia Ruggieri, Gaspare Drago, Cinzia Perrino, Silvia Canepari, Martin Balzan, Stephen Montefort, Giovanni Viegi, Fabio Cibella and on behalf of the RESPIRA Collaborative Project Group
Atmosphere 2020, 11(12), 1290; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11121290 - 29 Nov 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2440 | Correction
Abstract
Abstract: Exposure to outdoor air pollution has been shown to increase asthma symptoms. We assessed the potential role of particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter <2.5 μm (PM2.5) on respiratory condition in schoolchildren in the south Mediterranean area. A total of [...] Read more.
Abstract: Exposure to outdoor air pollution has been shown to increase asthma symptoms. We assessed the potential role of particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter <2.5 μm (PM2.5) on respiratory condition in schoolchildren in the south Mediterranean area. A total of 2400 children aged 11–14 years were recruited, and data on their symptoms were collected through an ISAAC (International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood)-based questionnaire. Outdoor PM2.5 was collected for 48 consecutive hours in the schoolyards of their schools and selected residential outdoor areas. The levels of PM2.5 were measured, along with its elemental composition. The incidence of an acute respiratory illness within the first 2 years of life was higher amongst Sicilian children when compared to Maltese children (29.7% vs. 13.5% respectively, p < 0.0001). Malta had a significantly higher prevalence of doctor‐diagnosed asthma, when compared to Sicily (18.0% Malta vs. 7.5% Sicily, p <0.0001). Similarly, current asthma (7.8% vs. 2.9%, p < 0.0001) and use of asthma medication in the last 12 months (12.1% vs. 4.9%, p < 0.0001) were more frequent amongst Maltese children. Total median PM2.5 was 12.9 μg/m3 in Sicily and 17.9 μg/m3 in Malta. PM2.5 levels were highest in the Maltese urban town of Hamrun (23.6 μg/m3), while lowest in the rural Sicilian town of Niscemi (10.9 μg/m3, p < 0.0001). Hamrun also exhibited the highest levels of nickel, vanadium, lead, zinc, antimony, and manganese, whilst the Sicilian city of Gela had the highest levels of cadmium, and the highest level of PM2.5 when compared to rural Sicily. Elevated levels of PM2.5 were positively associated with the prevalence of doctor diagnosed asthma (odds ratio (OR) 1.05), current asthma (OR 1.06), and use of asthma medication (OR 1.06). All elements in PM2.5 showed increased OR for doctor diagnosed asthma, while higher concentrations of Cd and Mn were associated with higher prevalence of rhinitis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Quality and Health in the Mediterranean)
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17 pages, 2327 KiB  
Article
Regional Inhaled Deposited Dose of Indoor Combustion-Generated Aerosols in Jordanian Urban Homes
by Tareq Hussein, Brandon E. Boor and Jakob Löndahl
Atmosphere 2020, 11(11), 1150; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11111150 - 25 Oct 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2122
Abstract
Indoor combustion processes associated with cooking, heating, and smoking are a major source of aerosols in Jordanian dwellings. To evaluate human exposure to combustion-generated aerosols in Jordanian indoor environments, regional inhaled deposited dose rates of indoor aerosols (10 nm to 25 µm) were [...] Read more.
Indoor combustion processes associated with cooking, heating, and smoking are a major source of aerosols in Jordanian dwellings. To evaluate human exposure to combustion-generated aerosols in Jordanian indoor environments, regional inhaled deposited dose rates of indoor aerosols (10 nm to 25 µm) were determined for different scenarios for adult occupants. The inhaled deposited dose rate provides an estimate of the number or mass of inhaled aerosol that deposits in each region of the respiratory system per unit time. In general, sub-micron particle number (PN1) dose rates ranged from 109 to 1012 particles/h, fine particle mass (PM2.5) dose rates ranged from 3 to 216 µg/h, and coarse particle mass (PM10) dose rates ranged from 30 to 1600 µg/h. Dose rates were found to be dependent on the type and intensity of indoor combustion processes documented in the home. Dose rates were highest during cooking activities using a natural gas stove, heating via natural gas and kerosene, and smoking (shisha/tobacco). The relative fraction of the total dose rate received in the head airways, tracheobronchial, and alveolar regions varied among the documented indoor combustion (and non-combustion) activities. The significant fraction of sub-100 nm particles produced during the indoor combustion processes resulted in high particle number dose rates for the alveolar region. Suggested approaches for reducing indoor aerosol dose rates in Jordanian dwellings include a reduction in the prevalence of indoor combustion sources, use of extraction hoods to remove combustion products, and improved ventilation/filtration in residential buildings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Quality and Health in the Mediterranean)
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18 pages, 1222 KiB  
Review
Airborne Aerosols and Human Health: Leapfrogging from Mass Concentration to Oxidative Potential
by Carolina Molina, Richard Toro A., Carlos A. Manzano, Silvia Canepari, Lorenzo Massimi and Manuel. A. Leiva-Guzmán
Atmosphere 2020, 11(9), 917; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11090917 - 28 Aug 2020
Cited by 42 | Viewed by 6633
Abstract
The mass concentration of atmospheric particulate matter (PM) has been systematically used in epidemiological studies as an indicator of exposure to air pollutants, connecting PM concentrations with a wide variety of human health effects. However, these effects can be hardly explained by using [...] Read more.
The mass concentration of atmospheric particulate matter (PM) has been systematically used in epidemiological studies as an indicator of exposure to air pollutants, connecting PM concentrations with a wide variety of human health effects. However, these effects can be hardly explained by using one single parameter, especially because PM is formed by a complex mixture of chemicals. Current research has shown that many of these adverse health effects can be derived from the oxidative stress caused by the deposition of PM in the lungs. The oxidative potential (OP) of the PM, related to the presence of transition metals and organic compounds that can induce the production of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS/RNS), could be a parameter to evaluate these effects. Therefore, estimating the OP of atmospheric PM would allow us to evaluate and integrate the toxic potential of PM into a unique parameter, which is related to emission sources, size distribution and/or chemical composition. However, the association between PM and particle-induced toxicity is still largely unknown. In this commentary article, we analyze how this new paradigm could help to deal with some unanswered questions related to the impact of atmospheric PM over human health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Quality and Health in the Mediterranean)
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2 pages, 412 KiB  
Correction
Correction: Zammit et al. Association between the Concentration and the Elemental Composition of Outdoor PM2.5 and Respiratory Diseases in Schoolchildren: A Multicenter Study in the Mediterranean Area. Atmosphere 2020, 11, 1290
by Christopher Zammit, David Bilocca, Silvia Ruggieri, Gaspare Drago, Cinzia Perrino, Silvia Canepari, Martin Balzan, Stephen Montefort, Giovanni Viegi, Fabio Cibella and on behalf of the RESPIRA Collaborative Project Group
Atmosphere 2021, 12(6), 706; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12060706 - 30 May 2021
Viewed by 2043
Abstract
In the original article [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Quality and Health in the Mediterranean)
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